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TA4LEGS 10-08-2012 11:59 PM

1981 Turbo TransAm
Where do I start and who do I go to for restoration of an 81 Trans Am that has been kept in storage for twenty years with all the original pieces and parts?

Mr. P-Body 10-09-2012 06:15 AM

Restoring a car is a process. You would be best off buying a "how to" book on basic restoration.

You must decide at the outset, whether it's going to be a true "restoratin" (all back "original") or a "restification", where certain changes and modifications are done. Once a path is "chosen", STAY ON IT.

Parts for the '81 are readily available. Ames Performance and Performance Years are, IMO, the two best places to get Pontiac resto parts. They don't sell Chevy or other GM stuff, Pontiac ONLY.

The engne is another matter. Very little true "expertise" out there. There's a 301 forum. I don't remember the name. We've had success with them using parts from "other" engines and custom-ground cams (sounds expensive, it's not). The turbo is quite unique. ONLY a qualified turbo shop should TOUCH it.

Very "special" cars, IMO. They represented a "last gasp" of performance from the old-style cars. Not until the late '80s did performance approach the same level in T/A. 305 just didn't cut it...


killerformula 10-09-2012 10:39 AM

Interesting. The 81 was the fastest 301 I believe. When you say "restore" what is your intention? Do you want to go back to 100% stock parts and setup? If not, what is your limit on modifications? For my money I'd be interested in playing with the turbo and cam a little bit to see if I could get some gains in the motor. As far as body parts are concerned, I would try to get factory parts (should be pretty widely-available). Repops on these are really a nightmare.

Last, even as this is a labor of love, I would investigate your current value and what it will be when you're done. Decide what level of "I just like this car" gap in the investment you're ok with.

Calculate what you think it will cost, part for part on the restore... Then double that figure. Its usually pretty close.


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